Textual Analysis: Deal or No Deal

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TV and Fictions: Viewing Log

Deal or No Deal

Airtime: Thursday 21st February 2013 (4pm)

My scene is from ‘Deal or No Deal’ (Channel 4, 2013) [1], a game show where the contestant has the chance to win a maximum of £250,000. I will be analysing the opening five minutes of the programme. In this small scene the following themes are explored; class, community and rituals. From the book ‘Come on Down? Popular media culture in post-war Britain’, it is said that game shows ‘have always had a very low cultural status’ (Whannel, G, 1992) [2].

As the show begins the camera instantly zooms in on ‘Noel Edmonds’, and the contestants are blacked out signalling that Noel is the host. This is common of game shows, and perhaps suggesting that he is more important than the contestants. The mise-en-scene shows Noel positioned in the centre of the room with the contestants arranged around facing him. This setting and its connotations could be seen as ‘church like’, with Noel representing the ‘priest’ and the audience represent the ‘church goers’.

The opening credit scene follows the typical game show theme. Upbeat music is played throughout, with images of winning contestants, which gives a positive feel. Confetti is seen as well which connotes ‘celebration’.

After the opening credits scene, the camera pans the audience who are applauding. Showing the audience is a common trait in game show and is important as ‘their ‘liveness’ or ‘nowness’ is crucial to their appeal for it positions the viewer as the equal of the characters in the narrative’ (Fiske, J, 1987) [4]. The camera then focuses on Noel who walks down the centre into the middle of the room to which he calls the audience ‘pilgrims’; another biblical reference.

Noel then begins to recall on the last episodes experience. This is a ritual that creates continuity and familiarity that is stereotypical of game shows. This could maybe be a method used to reinforce the ‘community’ atmosphere as jokes are made and crowd laugh.

The use of mise-en-scene is used to reinforce game show stereotypes, for example the screen that displays the money and the nametags on the contestants is typical in game shows. The clothing of the contestants is working to middle class, however, so is Noels. This is possibly trying to suggest that Noel is of their equal. This allows Noel to become a ‘friend’ to the selected contestant. Noels long hair, beard and casual clothing signify ‘informality’, reinforcing the idea that Noel can relate to the other contestants even though he is seen a celebrity.

A contestant is then randomly chosen from the screen between the possible candidates. Noel uses the phrase ‘now it’s your chance’. This signifies the idea of ‘luck’ within the game. From studying the ‘hierarchy of quiz shows’ (Fiske, J, 1987) [4] we can ‘categorise quiz shows according to their type of knowledge and its relation to social power’ (Fiske, J, 1987) [4]. In ‘Deal or No Deal’, the show is completely reliant on ‘luck’ and is therefore the lowest in the hierarchy, reinforcing the ‘low cultural’ status of the game.

‘The physical positioning of the host is significant, too, in defining the position of spectator/participant for, typically, his status is marked by freedom of movement’ (Lewis, B, 1984) [3]. In this scene Noel has the power to walk wherever he pleases, however the contestants are restrained to only their position behind their boxes. This reinforces Noel status. Once a competitor has been selected their status is up graded. ‘The successful player gains the right to move from the desk to another playing space and with it the right to play for greater rewards’ (Lewis, B, 1984). The selected competitor now has a name, which in this scene is named ‘Maggie’. She hugs the people next to her, which imply that there is some sort of friendship between the contestants, signifying a sense of ‘community’. She is now an active member and is given to power to walk around....
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